SHANGHAI, China, Sept. 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Sept. 7 and 8, one of the world’s largest technology venture capital investment conferences “Slush Shanghai 2018” from Finland in Northern Europe was held in Shanghai. Slush originated in Finland in Northern Europe. It is one of the most influential technology venture capital investment platforms in the world. So far, Slush has been successfully held in Helsinki, Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore and Shanghai. It has gained the attention of 250 million people around the world. Past guests have included Vinod Khosla, the king of global technology investment and founder of Sun Microsystems, Martin Lau, President of Tencent, Adena Friedman, President and CEO of NASDAQ, Sauli Niinisto, President of Finland, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Ilkka Paananen, founder of Supercell, etc. Yang Wang, Vice Premier of the State Council once also attended Slush as a special guest.

At Slush Shanghai, a group of leading AI companies, including Yixue Squirrel AI Learning, gathered together with global venture capital forces, to discuss the deep implementation of AI+ industry and the transformation of global venture capital forces. Wei Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Yixue Squirrel AI Learning, was invited to attend the conference. He delivered a wonderful speech and shared the stage with Zhiqiang Wu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Vice President of Tongji University, Peter Vesterbacka, initiator of Slush and co-founder of Angry Bird, Ping Yang, Vice President of JD.COM, Jian Zhou, CEO of Microsoft Accelerator, etc. In his speech, Wei Zhou gave a forward-looking interpretation of AI+ education. In his opinion, the change brought by AI to education is a restructuring of the learning relationship; traditional teaching built a teacher-centered teaching system; AI intelligent adaptive education builds a student-centered learning system. So far, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning has opened 1,000+ self-service classrooms across China, which use the intelligent adaptive system and real teachers to tutor students at the same time in a ratio of 7:3. Squirrel AI Intelligent Adaptive System’s successful application in education provoked the guests and audience into thinking and discussion about the scenarios and goals of AI application in education.

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On behalf of the new unicorn in the education sector, Wei Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Yixue Squirrel AI Learning, granted an exclusive interview with the reporter. In his view, AI will neither make students lazy, nor replace teachers; it is a tool to improve teaching and learning efficiency.

In education, AI is mainly reflected in adaptive learning.

According to public data, Squirrel AI is an AI adaptive learning engine based on advanced algorithms with complete proprietary intellectual property rights. Its leading R&D members come from the world’s three largest AI intelligent adaptive education organizations, i.e. Knewton, Realizeit, ALEKS.

It is understood that Squirrel AI Intelligent Adaptive Learning System imitates special-grade teachers to give each child a one-to-one tailored education program and implements the one-to-one education process. Compared with traditional education, the efficiency can increase by 5 to 10 times. “Using the current way of education, 90% of the learning content is a waste of time, which not only is inefficient, but also frustrates students' initiative to learn.”

In Wei Zhou’s view, in the current education system, students seem to struggle in an ocean of exercises every day. This way of learning is not learning, but training how to pass exams. However, AI adaptive education not only can improve students' learning efficiency, but also can save them 80% of their learning time.

In addition, in the next three to five years, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning will offer one million free learning accounts to one million children from extremely poor families.

In 2015, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning obtained a seed round of 31 million Yuan from Qingsong Fund, ZH Magnetic System, TAL Education and New Oriental’s founder Minhong Yu. In the first half of 2017, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning obtained an angel round of 120 million Yuan led by Greenwoods Asset, Cash Capital and New Oriental. In June, Nokia Growth Partners and SIG invested an additional 150 million Yuan. The angel round raised 270 million Yuan in total.

It has been reported that the company has raised 1 billion Yuan in financing and become a unicorn. The new round of financing will mainly focus on product R&D and scale expansion.

In the exclusive interview, Wei Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Yixue Squirrel AI Learning, first clarified the role of AI. In his opinion, AI can truly reduce students' burdens; it will not make students lazier, but will make learning more precise and efficient.

“Improvements in efficiency have nothing to do with diligence or laziness. A student studied 8 hours a day in the past, but studies 4 hours a day at present, so he has become lazy? No. It depends on whether he can learn better in 4 hours than in 8 hours. This is an efficiency problem. Yixue Squirrel AI Learning uses real teachers to do 30% of the teaching, while the rest 70% is done by the system. In other words, in an hour, the system teaches the students for 40 minutes, while the rest 20 minutes are for real teachers.”

As to whether AI can replace teachers, Wei Zhou told the reporter that AI just enables and supports education. He believes that AI will not replace teachers to complete all teaching work, but will help teachers become better teachers, freeing teachers from traditional teaching methods and changing the role of teachers.

It’s worth mentioning that in April 2018, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning organized a man vs. machine education competition in Chengdu, in which Squirrel AI defeated the senior high school entrance examination board members. In the man vs. machine competition in Shandong in June, Squirrel AI once again defeated 17 human teachers. In the competition, though one teacher instructed three students, Squirrel AI did better than human teachers in improving test scores.

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At the end of Aug. this year, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning organized a huge man vs. machine competition at the same time in 100 cities at different levels, including Beijing, Taiyuan, Xi’an, Shijiazhuang, Cangzhou, Xuancheng, etc. The final results showed that the students in the machine group learned more efficiently and improved their scores more significantly. From the results we can say Squirrel AI is close to or has surpassed real teachers’ individualized teaching.

“If AI can help a teacher reduce the burdens of teaching, he will accept it. If AI can replace a teacher, he will naturally refuse or even reject it. Teachers can use Squirrel AI as a tool to teach students and improve their teaching efficiency. This system is a learning system for students, not for teachers, because teachers already have a comprehensive grasp of knowledge points,” Wei Zhou told the reporter.

In addition, Wei Zhou affirmed AI's future prospects in the education sector. It is understood that the business model of Yixue Squirrel AI Learning is a combination of online and offline. “There are already more than 1,000 cooperative schools offline. We predict that the future education market in China will be 70% offline and 30% online,” Wei Zhou told the reporter.

At present, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning has more than 1,000 self-service classrooms across China. They are not classrooms in the traditional sense because teaching is done by the learning system. The number of cooperative schools is expected to exceed 1,500 at the end of this year and exceed 100,000 in the coming decade. So far, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning has quickly sunk to second-tier, third-tier and fourth tier cities, bringing the best individualized education to the whole China, even remote areas. For example, there are 2 cooperative schools in Tibet, 15 in Xinjiang and 20 in Inner Mongolia.

Data is the blood of AI. With the gradual popularization of AI, the role of data has become more and more important. Only with good data, can AI produce the expected results. Earlier, Wei Zhou said in a public speech: “We do not need a large amount of data, but we have a very high requirement for the precision of the collected scenarios and data.”

He analyzed with an example. For instance, according to data, a student answered a question wrong. He didn’t understand the knowledge point or he just messed about? If we collect data in an unsupervised environment and casually open accounts for students, some students with poor self-control may click without thinking and answer a question in less than a second. In Wei Zhou’s opinion, such data can do fatal damage to the system. “It will feel it’s different from its map path. The wrong result will make us wonder if the algorithm is wrong.”

Wei Zhou also introduced Yixue Squirrel AI Learning’s future prospects in R&D. Yixue Squirrel AI Learning now already has a very precise question system, which will keep improving as the Squirrel AI knowledge detection system improves. In the future, Yixue Squirrel AI Learning will continue to enhance system interactivity, integrate factors such as the student’s real-time heart rate, brain waves and facial expression in the learning state for comprehensive analysis, and provide each student with a virtual personal assistant. Yixue Squirrel AI Learning will use multi-spatial detection factors to measure students' emotions, so as to provide better learning services.

Yixue Squirrel AI Learning has always attached great importance to the investment in R&D. It has successfully developed China’s first intelligent adaptive learning engine Squirrel AI based on advanced algorithms with complete proprietary intellectual property rights. It has established a Joint Lab for AI with SRI International and a Joint Lab for AI Intelligent Adaptative Education with the Chinese Academy of Science. Yixue Squirrel AI Learning has initiated a definable, measurable and teachable individualized education mode that “treats a thousand people in a thousand ways”.

At present, the "AI+ education" track is already packed with all kinds of players.

Talking about future competition, Wei Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Yixue Squirrel AI Learning, told the reporter that AI education with capital injections is still an amalgamation of ice and fire. The education market is an imaginative incremental market less affected by economic fluctuations. Education is a market where all flowers bloom together. At present, there are more than 40,000 education brands and one million education institutions in China. Further integration in the industry is certain in the future. Leading enterprises will have huge brand and market advantages.

About YiXue Squirrel AI Learning Inc.

YiXue Squirrel AI Inc. is a leading AI-based adaptive learning service provider for K-12 students in China. Headquartered in Shanghai, China, YiXue offers after-school courses for Math, English, Chinese, Physics and Chemistry subjects, powered by its proprietary AI adaptive engine and custom-built courseware. Students on Squirrel AI's platform enjoy a supervised adaptive learning experience that has been proven to improve both efficacy and student engagement across Squirrel AI's online learning platform and in-person learning centers.

To learn more about YiXue Squirrel AI Learning, please visit http://www.squirrelai.us/.